The author is Ashraf Engineer, Principal Consultant with Pitchfork Partners
What was the first thing you did when you woke up this morning? Chances are, as you rubbed the sleep from your eyes and cursed the sun for rising, you reached out for your smartphone. It’s always on, of course, and you probably looked at your mails, social media and perhaps the news.
Your phone is no longer a tool, but an extension of you. But, while your phone may be your most-used device it’s not the only screen you view – this is the multi-screen age.
What does this mean for marketers? And what is the opportunity in India?
Recently, I came across the Millward Brown AdReaction 2014 Study, an insightful survey of more than 12,000 multi-screen users aged 16 to 44 across 30 countries. In Asia-Pacific, 3,080 respondents were polled across Australia, China, India (328 respondents), Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
The findings are telling. While Indians watch considerably less TV and spend less time on their laptops and tablets, they use their smartphones a lot more than the others. We spend 162 minutes a day on our phones, while the global average is 147 minutes.
Here’s where else Indians are ahead: when it comes to simultaneous device use, 45% are looking at related content, known as ‘meshing’; the global average is 38%. This indicates a higher level of sophistication than the rest of the world’s. Underscoring it is the finding that fewer Indians (55%) look for unrelated content than the global average (62%).
The smartphone theme continues across the research. When asked about tasks that start on TV and continue on another screen, Indians say it’s smartphones 52% of the time. The global average is 37%.
Here’s more heartening news for marketers. Indians are ahead when it comes to interacting with what’s on TV (16%) – and to follow up on ads (18%) – of the global average (14% and 11% respectively). In fact, Indians are not only more favourable to advertising on all screens, they are also more attentive to it.
This indicates a receptivity to marketing messages that can, in part, be attributed to the aspirations of an economy that’s coming into its own.
It’s little wonder that, while predicting mobile ad spend overtaking desktop spends by 2018 to account for 50.2% of all internet advertising globally, ZenithOptimedia’s ‘Advertising Expenditure Forecasts’ says India’s ad spends will grow 13% till then.
The task before us is clear: Deliver seamless, integrated campaigns that match user shifts between screens. Media strategy will need an understanding of how audience sets use each screen.
As marketers, we will need technology that enables this seamless syncing. Effective harnessing of data will help us understand how different audiences use various screens and help create targeted, effective campaigns.
Incidentally, I believe that over time we’ll have another screen in the mix – the digital out-of-home interface.
While these aren’t common in India yet, Kinetic Panel’s research in December 2014 in the UK shows that they can be used effectively by brands.
For instance, 19% of the 1,000 consumers surveyed said that, on seeing a digital outdoor ad, they looked for more information about the product or service. For consumers aged 18 to 24 years, this rose to 24%. In this age group, 23% downloaded an app after seeing an outdoor ad, compared with roughly 10% of the older consumers.
The opportunity lies in location-specific information and offers, ranging from interactive content to downloadable vouchers and even shopping directly from the screens.
For now, however, the focus is firmly on mobile.
Many Indians obsess about the lines on their palms, believing they are the periscope to their future. As marketers, it’s the device we hold in our palms that should be an object of obsession.
Ashraf Engineer is currently a principal consultant with Pitchfork Partners, a strategic communication and marketing consultancy. He is also a professor of brand communication and a former journalist. He tweets at @AshrafEngineer